Well, we’re not going to lie to you, this might be the worst-officiated NFL season ever. Amidst some of the most consistently-incorrect and blatantly disputable calls we’ve ever seen, a few football games broke out; Some of them might even be called good. With plenty more left to be played, this season has already been a rollercoaster. Perhaps stop by the teacup ride before getting into The Sports Wave’s 2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week Nine.
(1) Arizona Cardinals 5
As they vault to the top of these rankings, Colt McCoy strangely might have just hurt Kyler Murray’s MVP case. A supposedly dominant 49ers defense was shredded by the backup, who went an unexpected 22/26 when passing. His mistake-free day made a solid case for how good this team around Murray really is. They’ll still be happy to get Kyler back as they take on a stingy Panthers secondary next week.
(2) Tennessee Titans 5
The Titans offense was unsurprisingly lacklustre, but who would have thought that their secondary would come to play? In a weekend riddled with absurd upsets, the Titans took the lone top spot in the AFC with another trademark win, their third massive achievement in the past four weeks. They should still credit this win to Stafford, but their back seven was as effective as its been all season. They don’t really deserve to be a top team in these rankings yet, but who does?
(3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1
On the bye week, Brady and the Bucs stay winning, as their opponents crumbled all around them. On to the Washington Football Team.
(4) Los Angeles Rams 3
Who’s house? We’re not entirely sure. Los Angeles played like the better team for a vast majority of Sunday Night’s action, but a few crucial mistakes cost them. Two consecutive gaffes by Matthew Stafford turned into 14 fast and easy points, and Tyler Higbee getting a toe out of bounds prior to catching a touchdown wiped a crucial score off the board. The Rams beat themselves badly, and can’t justifiably be the best team in the league after a showing like that.
(5) Buffalo Bills3
This was arguably the worst single game we’ve seen from Buffalo since Josh Allen’s rookie season in 2018, despite the defense allowing only 9 points, 6 of which came from two short fields. The defense indeed played valiantly, but they couldn’t overcome a bevy of turnovers as Buffalo’s offense finally displayed their fatal weakness; Their offensive line was devoured in its entirety by the Jaguars’ 29th-best defensive line.
(6) Green Bay Packers 3
It’s hard to knock the Packers down a peg here, missing their MVP quarterback against what’s supposed to be one of the best teams in the league, but they were unable to put up the lowly 14 points they needed to secure a victory. Their defense excelled, but with their starters returning to offense around the quarterback position, and a week of practice with ‘The Ones’, no excuses can be made.
(7) Los Angeles Chargers 1
Finally, a good game from L.A. again. Several disappointments had derailed their hot start to the season, but taking down a Philly team that’s better than their record helps them regain some of that confidence. Justin Herbert looked like a young Justin Herbert out there, slinging the rock non-stop for one of the most efficient games of his career so far.
(8) Baltimore Ravens 1
And they’re back. The old storyline that the Ravens can’t come back to win is officially dead, but they’ll need to maintain the passing success they’ve displayed a few times this season if they intend to stay competitive later in the year. Justin Tucker is exactly as clutch as ever, and his leg is a great backup plan for when the offense stalls out.
(9) Dallas Cowboys 4
The Cowboys might be one of the best teams in the league, but the Broncos got the better of them this weekend, in a major way. Their previously-famed offensive line was crucified by the Broncos pass rush in their first game since trading away Von Miller. Sloppy mistakes, bad coverage, and the inability to prevent big plays all were significant factors in this ugly and demoralizing loss.
(10) Indianapolis Colts 1
After everything that happened last weekend, it must be a relief for fans to see Carson Wentz have his best game as a Colt once again. It came against one of the worst teams in the league, but it still counts, and they handily managed the Jets in a rout. This was complete and effective dominance against an inferior opponent, and it’s what good teams tend to do.
(11) Cleveland Browns 1
If the Browns spent one week in drama-geddon, you couldn’t tell; The disruptions don’t look like it made it inside the facility. Slightly hobbled, and in desperate need of an upset win, Cleveland delivered in all areas of the field. The secondary had it’s best game of the season, highlighted by a 99-yard pick-six by Denzel Ward, and Nick Chubb has proven to be as trustworthy as ever on the ground. People still have concerns about the Browns, and for good reason, but they took a chunk out of the doubters this week.
(12) New Orleans Saints 2
The Saints were delegated to their third-string quarterback, and at the start of the game it looked like it. For three quarters of the game New Orleans couldn’t move the ball, and ultimately the final quarter was an example of the best they had to offer. It was too little, too late. This team may need to get used to this, but perhaps it’s just an adjustment to another starting QB, and they can come out swinging next week.
(13) Pittsburgh Steelers 2
Pittsburgh shouldn’t have needed help to win this game, but the biggest takeaway was undoubtedly the terrible officiating throughout the course of Monday Night Football’s program. We don’t know how this game goes without their absurd interference, but Pittsburgh were sloppy, allowing a bad Bears team to make a late, great comeback. Ben Roethlisberger sure executes a mean two-minute drill though.
(14) Las Vegas Raiders 1
It’s tough being a Raider right now, and the team finally cracked their facade amidst one of the most horrendous social scenes in sports. They moved the ball well against New York, but the team made costly mistakes at inopportune times, and a newly-stingy Giants defense took advantage of those opportunities. Vegas went one of six in the red zone, and that’s not how you win against anyone in the NFL.
(15) Kansas City Chiefs 1
Another unimpressive showing from a team that couldn’t possibly have won with Aaron Rodgers across from them. The bright spot for the Chiefs this season was supposed to be the offense, even amidst poor effort across the board on the rest of the team, but even that isn’t true anymore. A narrow victory is still a victory, but if Kansas City doesn’t revamp this team immediately they’ll be a non-factor when the playoffs come, if they even make it.
(16) New England Patriots 2
Oh dear. I’m having vivid flashbacks to the Patriots of old, who dominated the NFL for 20 seasons. This team isn’t nearly as good as those teams, but they’re winning games, trending upwards, and now sit only a half-game back from the Bills in the AFC East race. They’re not contenders, but they can hang with any team in the NFL right now.
(17) Cincinnati Bengals 1
Cincy might still be walking back to their practice facility now, coming off one of their worst losses of the past few seasons. In a span of nine days, they’ve fallen from the AFC’s top seed to last in the AFC North. The Burrow to Chase connection missed it’s flight, and their defense which has played well so far this season was decimated. They have a lot of work to do.
(18) San Francisco 49ers 1
They’re not bad, but are they that good either? One of the most unreadable teams in the NFL put their signature on the field in this game, but it was completely illegible. Kyle Shanahan might just be in the hot seat, as his apparent reliance on Robert Saleh as his defensive coordinator seems shockingly prevalent. Jimmy G too, for that matter.
(19) Seattle Seahawks
Seattle’s bye has been an uninteresting one, but they’ll be in for a weird week as they wonder which Packers’ QB they play on Sunday.
(20) Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings just can’t seem to play a complete game of football. Big plays made up most of their ball movement and scoring, as they were massively unsuccessful for a vast majority of their offensive snaps outside of those. They couldn’t stay on the field late, and the defense was getting taken over as the huge number of snaps wore them out. They came up big in overtime, but the offense did them further disservice. Disappointing.
(21) Philadelphia Eagles 1
We love to hand out partial credit for good losses here at TSW, and Philly earned some of it this weekend. They were a fourth-down stop away from getting a potential short-field game-winning drive to close out the clock, but Herbert’s heroics proved the victor. Though they’re unlikely to compete for the division, the Eagles could upset almost any team in this league on any given Sunday. Keep your eyes peeled.
(22) New York Giants 2
Oh, the Giants might just be better than anyone gave them credit for. They’re playing well as they take on high-quality competition and, as one of the most injury-hampered rosters in the league begins to get healthy, they could be trending upwards. They made their mistakes but they just aren’t as bad as people seem to believe. They’re very fun to root for, if nothing else.
(23) Denver Broncos 3
No Miller, no problem, it seems. This run game exposed Dallas’ front seven, with a huge game from rookie RB Javonte Williams, and Teddy Bridgewater proved that he’s not washed up just yet. They excelled on defense too, stifling one of the NFL’s best passing games. Consistently collapsing the pocket, solid downfield coverage, and forcing good field position, they led Dallas 30-0 before sending in the subs.
(24) Carolina Panthers 3
The Panthers have arguably the best secondary in the entire NFL right now, but they don’t have anything else going for them. Their offense, even with McCaffrey returning, was ineffective against the Patriots, and all the defense in the world won’t matter if you can’t put up more than 6 points. They do have every right to be upset at Mac Jones for his ankle-twist on Brian Burns, but they can only blame themselves for the loss.
(25) Washington Football Team 2
The WFT had a nice, quiet bye week ahead of a storm, as they face the Buccaneers in a 2020 Wild Card rematch.
(26) Atlanta Falcons 1
Matt Ryan looked a little bit like the 2016 MVP against a bewildered Saints defense. On any other day it might not have been enough but, with the Saints having to start Trevor Siemian at quarterback, Sunday was not that day. An effective game in all phases made for casual viewing, up until a heroic comeback, but Ryan put that in ‘Ice’ quickly. Snuffing the Saints is an achievement, even with a backup QB.
(27) Miami Dolphins 2
The Dolphins were struck an unsuspected blow right before kickoff, as Tua was suddenly downgraded to out, but it might not have made a difference. Jacoby Brissett was acceptable, but they should thank the resurgence of their defense for this narrow win over one of the NFL’s worst teams. Almost stunningly, they broke their seven-game skid, even if it was during one of the least entertaining games of a day filled with bad football. We can’t justify bumping them with the movement going on all around them on the board, though.
(28) Chicago Bears 1
Let’s give the Bears some credit, because this week they’re the poster boys of the NFL’s absurd refereeing policies. Aside from that, Justin Fields looked like an NFL QB, making great plays with his arms and legs all across the field. Perhaps this team is actually just one decent head coach away from winning games like this, as an absurd 66-yard field goal attempt was favoured over a young, strong armed QB heaving it into the endzone one last time. The statistics don’t support most of Nagy’s decisions, and neither do the people watching.
(29) Jacksonville Jaguars 2
Jacksonville finally did something that meant they deserved credit, but give none of that to this offense. The team was consistently underwhelming in one of the most boring matchups of the season so far, but thanks to Josh Allen (not that Josh Allen) they come out with the ‘W’. They slayed a massive dragon on Sunday, but there’s not much reason to believe that they can pull it off again.
(30) New York Jets2
Who really had the Jets winning this one, not including the Mike White truthers? Truthfully, Mike White did look excellent before he was taken out of the game with a wrist injury, and Josh Johnson was effective as well, both overshadowing a rocky rookie season so far from Zach Wilson. The Jets might finally have drafted well to a certain degree, with Elijah Moore, who’s incredible game was one of the lone highlights in this embarrassingly one-sided loss.
(31) Houston Texans 1
The Texans were expecting things to be better with the return of Tyrod Taylor and, with a tough schedule ahead, this game was their chance to set things right. They didn’t follow through. Taylor is an improvement from Davis Mills, but Miami’s secondary has the pieces it needs to be one of the league’s most ferocious and it made for a subpar return to the starting role. There’s not much to be happy about any more in Houston.
(32) Detroit Lions
Detroit’s bye week had nothing of interest, much like the rest of their season.
Don’t forget to check out last week, and come back next time!